This is a recipe I've been serving up in my house for years, and whether for Thanksgiving, Easter, or just an anytime awesome vegan meal, it always gets rave reviews. After all, what's not to love when yummy ground cashews & hearty brown rice are mixed with herbs and spices and baked to perfection? Not a whole lot, I can tell you that for sure!
I must point out that I rarely use cashews this heavily, as they can get pricey, and while a vegan's dream ingredient for those missing the creaminess of dairy, can still be heavy-ish on the pocketbook and tummy if not used in (relative) moderation.
But with today being a special occasion, what better time could there be to make something (just a little) less ordinary, and perhaps (just a little) more delicious than usual?
Cashew Rice Loaf + Red Pepper Cheese Sauce
~ Adapted From the Silver Hills Cookbook(1/3) cup short grain brown rice
(1) cup water for cooking the rice
(1) tbsp olive oil
(1) small onion, finely chopped
(1) cup finely ground raw cashews
(1) cup breadcrumbs
(1) cup soy or nut milk
(2) tbsp fresh or dried parsley
(1) tbsp soy sauce or Bragg's
(1/2) tsp salt, or to taste
Olive oil for oiling the loaf pan
Start by combining the rice and cold water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer with the lid on for 35-40 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients.
While the rice cooks, chop the onion finely and heat (1) tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 6-8 minutes until brown and fragrant. Once the onion is cooked, add it to a large mixing bowl that is ready and waiting to go.
In the mixing bowl, combine the cooling cooked onion with the remaining loaf ingredients. Once the rice is cooked, add it to the mixture while still warm, this will help it all to mix beautifully together. Mix everything well, and get in there with your hands to ensure it is all even. After mixing, the mixture should be nice and moist, but not too dry. Feel free to add a few extra breadcrumbs if the mixture feels too wet, but in my experience the ratios here are perfect.
At this point, once your loaf mixture is all mingling together, you can set the mixture aside for later and bake it when convenient. To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the cashew mixture to a well oiled standard loaf pan (or two smaller pans) and bake for 40 minutes, until the house is smelling wonderful and the loaf has browned on top.
Red Pepper Cheese Sauce:
- (2) medium red bell peppers, seeded & chopped coarsely (you could use yellow or orange too for different colour)
- (1) cup cashews or cashew pieces (slightly more affordable)
- (1.5) cups water
- (1/4) cup olive oil
- (1-1.5) tsp salt
- (1) tbsp nutritional yeast
- (1/4) tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
- (1/4) tsp black or white pepper
Combine all ingredients in your blender, and blend on high for at least a full minute, even longer (up to 2 minutes is good). This recipe is so easy and simple and doesn't require any pre-soaking of nuts or roasting of peppers!
Once your mixture is well blended, transfer to a medium saucepan and heat very gently on the stove. Cook this mixture over medium-low heat for 15 -20 minutes until heated throughout, and thick and bubbly. Make sure to stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cooking the cashews gently thickens them while cooking the pepper and spices together. Of course, you could pre-roast the peppers, but I love the beauty and ease of this sauce - it can be whipped up in minutes spur of the moment!
Serve this for a special meal. Or serve it every day. Turn it out onto a serving dish (wait for it to cool a minute) and garnish with fresh herbs and cooked greens. It's not only fabulous fresh out of the oven and smothered in gravy, but equally delicious thrown in the fridge to be enjoyed later. Crumble leftovers over green salads with tahini dressing, or add it to a vegetable sautee with garlic & kale. This dish is easy to make and always a hit for vegans and omnivores alike. Feel free to use different breadcrumbs and play around with the herbs and vegetables too. My favourite part of this recipe is it doesn't need anything added, it's perfect just the way it is!